Author Topic: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!  (Read 13601 times)

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Offline son_of_montfort

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Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« on: September 11, 2012, 09:00:38 PM »
You read that right, I've bought myself several brushes, have a nice table, white primered some minis (from a game I don't play often, so I can practice) and I'm going to embark on mini painting sometime this week (or weekend).

I'm going to use some cheaper craft acrylics for my first run, since this is largely a getting-started type thing. I've read up on diluting the paints and applying several basecoats. I'm a little intimidated by the idea of diluting my own wash, any advice?

I may switch to water-based enamels when I get better. Enamel paints (I remember them from my modeling days at 4-H) are a real PITA.

The painting sounds therapeutic, and I really feel the need to do something creative - not just gaming. Something where I have an end product for my time.

Any advice or support would be welcome!
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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012, 09:11:26 PM »
The water based enamels aren't that bad, but do what you think is best to start with.

My advice is rather than buying minis you want to practice on, buy some minis you'd like to own. Nothing sucks worse than feeling like you must paint something just to get it into your army even though you don't like it. I don't mean go out and buy some $500 Forgeworld model, but at least try to find something that interests you. If you have something military in mind, I can assure you that no matter how obscure, there's probably a historical minis gamer who's made a model for it. If nothing else, buy an extra pack of zombies from the Zombies board game. At least you know you like zombies :)

As for a wash, it really isn't bad. Normally folks use a dark wash - deep browns seem to be best. They're usually heavily diluted. I'm thinking 80 - 90% diluted.

Because I use water based paints, I dilute with Windex, but that's another story for when you're ready to go water-based.

Pop in questions as they come. I'm not a guru, but I feel comfortable talking about general stuff.

Offline TheCommandTent

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 09:12:16 PM »
Welcome to the dark side Dr.!   ;D


You failed to inform us of the most important part.  What minis will you be painting?


I am by no means a great minis painter, as my blog can attest, so take my advice as you will.  One big thing I've learned is that lots of people do things different ways and it is all about finding a way of doing something that get the results that you want and think look good on your gaming table.

Depending on what kind of wash you want to give your figure there are some great ready made washes so you don't even have to worry about mixing your own.  Definitely use water based paints.  Your brush will be so much easier to clean up and some mistakes can been quickly fixed with a wet cloth before they dry.

Have you ever painted minis before or just model vehicles?  That could help narrow down the advice we could give.

Either way good luck and I hope you take lots of pictures for us.
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Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 10:53:00 PM »
SoM,
I'm planning on doing a bit of mini painting myself.  I've done a bunch of research and have found a bunch of on-line resources. If you want, I can post them here or PM-you directly.

Yours in painting,

Jack Nastyface
Now, the problem is, how to divide five Afghans from three mules and have two Englishmen left over.

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 04:25:02 AM »
SoM,
I'm planning on doing a bit of mini painting myself.  I've done a bunch of research and have found a bunch of on-line resources. If you want, I can post them here or PM-you directly.

Yours in painting,

Jack Nastyface

I would encourage you to post them here - we're all about the gaming hobby in general and I suspect even guys like me and Tent can still learn plenty of tricks :)

Offline TheCommandTent

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 07:12:19 AM »
SoM,
I'm planning on doing a bit of mini painting myself.  I've done a bunch of research and have found a bunch of on-line resources. If you want, I can post them here or PM-you directly.

Yours in painting,

Jack Nastyface

I would encourage you to post them here - we're all about the gaming hobby in general and I suspect even guys like me and Tent can still learn plenty of tricks :)

Yes please post them here.  One of the things I enjoy about this hobby is the give and take between everyone in the hobby in order to help one another learn.

Speaking of which here is a link I found useful when starting out painting.

http://johnswargames.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/172-scale-painting-tutorial/
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Offline MIGMaster

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 11:04:24 AM »
Ok....let me start with this.... I've never painted a mini so please bear with me.... Do you need to apply a base coat or a primer before you start painting ? I've noted that some of the colors are extremely intense and I figured they must be applied to a well-prepped surface ? Or do they come already prepped ? Sorry dudes, I'm just trying to figure this out.....

Offline TheCommandTent

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 11:14:37 AM »
Ok....let me start with this.... I've never painted a mini so please bear with me.... Do you need to apply a base coat or a primer before you start painting ? I've noted that some of the colors are extremely intense and I figured they must be applied to a well-prepped surface ? Or do they come already prepped ? Sorry dudes, I'm just trying to figure this out.....

Not a problem, asking questions is the best way to learn.

To start with you need to wash your figures off in warm water with a little soap and then rinse thoroughly.  After they are dried you need to apply primer.   The primer is very important to give the figure a nice uniformed surface for the paint to adhere.  IMHO it also helps bring out details for you to see while you paint.  There is however, the debate over whether to use white, gray or black primer.  But thats a whole other story. :)
“No wants, no needs, we weren't meant for that, none of us.  Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.”

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 11:32:58 AM »
To start with you need to wash your figures off in warm water with a little soap and then rinse thoroughly.  After they are dried you need to apply primer.   The primer is very important to give the figure a nice uniformed surface for the paint to adhere.  IMHO it also helps bring out details for you to see while you paint.  There is however, the debate over whether to use white, gray or black primer.  But thats a whole other story. :)

A note - I used to never wash my minis before I primed them. Can't say I ever noticed much difference, but I can say that it won't hurt. I have three dogs and if my minis lay out for any length of time near the floor they get covered in fur that absolutely needs to be washed off. So now I wash mine.

As for primer - it helps. FWIW, I bought some Valspar primer at Lowes that is rust colored. It's the same (I think) as the primer used by the Krauts in WWII. Valspar is unfortunately not mini quality and goes on pretty thick. In addition it needs about 36 hours to fully cure. So primer *can* come in different colors, but talk to us before you jump off that pier.

Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 11:42:42 AM »
^I'd back up one more step...
First...whether you are painting metal, hard-plastic or soft-plastict minis, I highly recommend that you clean them up with a file and exacto-blade, first.  Many minis will come with flash and mold-lines clearly showing on the model, and you really need to make an effort to clean those up, first.  Buy yourself a set of mini-files (probably cost you about $10) and a set of small or fine wire cutters / side cutters (I actually use a pair of old hangnail clippers) and you should be good-to-go.

If you are painting hard or soft plastic minis (and some metal ones), you will of course need to cut them off of the sprue.  I tend to wash the complete sprue with components still attached in warm, soapy water BEFORE I start cutting off pieces, but you could do it later (after assembly).

As CommandTent mentions, once the figures are cleaned up (flash, mold-lines) and then washed, you can go ahead and prime them.  As he mentioned, you ABSOLUTELY need a primer on minis.  Soft-plastic minis need either a "household" plastic primer (Krylon) or a "model craft" plastic primer (read:  more expensive Humbrol etc brands).

Before priming your figures, you may also want to think about creating what I call a "figure stick" or mini-painting stand of some kind.  Bascially this is a stand that you fix the mini to that you can hold onto when you paint.  Some folks use a wine-cork and double-side tape the figure on one end.  I use any scrap of wood stripping (think 1 x 2) that I may have lying about in my garage and then either white-glue or double-side tape a bunch of figures to it.   Makes it easy to prime, store and paint the guys.

And since I've already mentioned it...I don't know if you've already picked out your minis, but you might want to give some consideration to what kind you want to paint.  By "kind" I don't mean era or melieu (although that is important) but casting material.  Metal minis are expensive, but they have a nice heft to them, and it's relatively easy to completely remove paint from them and start again if you want practice / don't like the results.  Hard-plastic minis are really only a few years old, but having a tremendous impact on the hobby.  Like traditional model kits, they DO require some assembly, but that allows you to customize figures to your hearts content.  Finally, soft-plastic (typically 1/72 scale plastic soldiers, like the Airfix or Esci guys) are the most affordable, but the small scale is a little difficult to manage, and you have to really choose model kits carefully for casting quality.  Check out plasticsoldierreview.com as a good source of info.

More later...

Jack Nastyface
Now, the problem is, how to divide five Afghans from three mules and have two Englishmen left over.

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 11:54:34 AM »
Jack makes excellent points all the way around.

I *hate* seeing lines on my minis and will go to great lengths to file off the casting lines, going so far as to file them down even in places where I'll never see them. I'll often spend almost as much time filing as I do painting (a slight exaggeration, but only by some).

Once you've painted a mini, that line stays there forever (or until you strip the paint off the mini and repaint it).

In addition to what Jack has said, when I prime my minis I like to rotate them. But you don't want to touch the wet primer, so I place a piece of cardboard (usually one of the top flaps) under them so I can rotate them without directly touching them.

Offline TheCommandTent

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2012, 12:05:04 PM »
Definitely filing off mold lines and such is important.  I am really bad about this and always regret rushing through that step when I see a line on my painted mini.
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Offline MIGMaster

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2012, 01:10:34 PM »
All very interesting - amazing how so many different hobbies have many commonalities. I go thru a very similar process while painting and detailing RC boats. Paints differ in most cases, except for the Krylon ( I consider it a gateway paint  ;)), Many boaters like gel coat paints over primer on fibreglass or ABS plastic hulls to get a rich look.... I have a shitload of files, various sand/water papers and dremel bits/attachments. Its all about the detail!  I suspect if I got into minis (in addition to my RC addiction), I would need alternate shelter arrangements!  ;D

Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 03:11:39 PM »
Part The First:
I should preface this by saying that I'm no expert at painting minis, but I tend to do lots of research before engaging on anything I do.  So here follows are some randomly collected things of interest.
Books:
Kevin Dallimore is without a doubt one of the leading artists in this area.  He has written two books for Foundry Miniatures - one is out of print: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundry-Miniatures-Painting-Modelling-Guide/dp/1901543137/ref=pd_sim_b_1
and the other is widely available and features a DVD: (http://wargamesfoundry.com/books/painting_guide/).
I've browsed through the "master class" book and it is truly inspiring.  Lots of information on painting techniques that is back-stopped with good illustrations / photos.  Although this would be a worthwhile purchase, I am not keen to pick it up for $50.  Still, if you manage to find it used on ebay, etc, I'd definately say "go for it".

I give a slightly less-enthusiastic thumbs up to the Coolminiornot.com Ultimate painting guide:
http://www.coolminiornot.com/shop/downloadables/ultimate-painting-guide-link.html
At $10 for the downloadable version, it is much more affordable than Dallimore's works, but it is also less authoritative.  The good folks at www.coolminiornot.com have basically created a pdf from articles submitted to their site.  As a result, the quality varies from article to article, artist to artist, writer to writer.   I don't know how you learn, but I find that when it comes to painting minis I need to see lots of pictures.  The cool-mini-or-not book suffers somewhat in this area.

If you are looking to do 1/72 scale stuff (including vehicles) I would recommend picking up "Braille Scale Modelling" by Sven-Ake Grufstedt.  This pdf is available for about $3 (http://www.lulu.com/shop/sven-%C3%A5ke-grufstedt/braille-scale-modelling/ebook/product-20220897.html), and like the CMON book is made up of individual tutorial lessons that were created by a fellow hobbyist.  The book focuses on armor, but he also does some fig painting and diorama building.

"Small Scale Armor Modelling" by Alex Clark (Osprey books - hardcopy and pdf) is a tremendous resource but it is highly highly detailed.  Mr. Clark does an excellent job of describing what he does, and shows the amazing results...but you know, I just don't have the time.  And at $45+.

Videos
I run hot and cold on videos.  On the one hand, I like being able to watch and listen real-time or even speed-time how someone preps and paints a mini.  On the other hand...I don't have copious amounts of spare time to watch videos, so I need to be very specific about what I want to do / see.

Coolminiornot has a host of videos (check the "store" and then the DVD and downloadables section) that provide instruction on mini-painting.  The video series by Jennifer Hayley and Natalya Melnik are amazing, but are well beyond the scope of a beginning painter.  You can view some "trailers" from the video over at coolminiornot and see the kind of work they do.

By far the best of the series for the beginnier to intermediate painter is the "Hot lead" series by Lazlo Somethingsomething.  I hope I don't get into trouble for this, but I found the first DVD of the series on a site-that-must-not-be-named.  Hot Lead also has a series of youtube videos that offer some good instructions and pointers.

And by the way...Probably your best bet for video instruction is youtube.  More on that, next.

Websites
I will try to list a number of websites that have proven useful to me, so keep checking this thread.  In the mean time, some of the sites I found useful are:

Coolminiornot.com.  Nice gallery, great set of tutorials, and a helpful and encouraging group of users.  The article index is here http://www.coolminiornot.com/articles/5760-Articles-Index . I would recommend browsing at will.

Artmasterstudio.co.uk  is a most excellent site by a group artists who do paid commission work, but who also share their expertise on how to paint (mainly historical) minis.  Checking out their video stream on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/ArtmasterStudioTV) is an absolute must.

Victrix (makers of fine metal and plastic 28 and 54mm figs) have two "photologs" of interest that I highly recommend checking out...one on the "wargames standard" painting process (http://www.victrixlimited.com/painting_guide_beginners.php) and another on the Connosieur Standard (http://www.victrixlimited.com/painting_guide_advanced.php).

The logically named How-to-Paint miniatures site (http://www.how-to-paint-miniatures.com/) also has a host of good information.  Although the site tends to focus on fantasy / sf gaming, the concepts apply to any era.  They also use the basecoat / wash / highlight technique which is very popular but produces different results than the basecoat-medium coat - highlight process.

The painting Corps blog (http://thepaintingcorps.blogspot.ca/p/painting-tips.html) also does some fine work, and they have a lot of step-by-steps.  Gotta like that.

And last but certainly not least...be sure to check out Matt Parkes' workbench at Wargames Illustrated magazine (http://www.wargamesillustrated.net/Default.aspx?tabid=309).  Matt Parkes does a series of "how to" articles in Wargames magazine which are nice.  He uses some techniques I don't always follow (I'm not big on filters and inks) but the guy does great work, efficiently.

And of course there is youtube.  Search for anything related to minis on youtube and you'll get a host of hits.  My personal recommendations are to find something you are interested in doing (painting 28mm left-handed Babylonian sling-throwers, etc), watch a few vids, and see what artists / contributors / styles you like.

Other stuff...
There was a webzine produced a couple of years back by a guy calling himself CourtJester.  I don't see his site anymore, but I still have a couple of the 'zines he made.  I can probably share if you email or PM me.

There's also a new 'zine called Kinetic7 (www.kinetic7.com) that has a nice downloadable ezine.  I recommend picking it up ASAP as things have a way of going AWOL.

Yours in primer and paint,

Jack Nastyface

P.S.  I have the morning off.  Can you tell?
 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2012, 03:35:16 PM by Jack Nastyface »
Now, the problem is, how to divide five Afghans from three mules and have two Englishmen left over.

Offline besilarius

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Re: Lord Help Me... I'm going to paint minis!
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2012, 04:55:14 PM »
SOM, as a person of historical interest, having some background on figurines may make it more fun.
www.hmgs.org has a history and some nice information in general.
When I began painting miniatures, we won't mention dates, right after the Second World War, there was a ton of cheap leftover lead from batteries.
Just about any figure from that era had some battery lead in it.  The problem with that is that the acid tended to slowly degrade the metal, and it was possible to have figures become brittle and even crumble at a light touch.
This is where the priming became de rigeur.
First you used a figure wash, commercially made by Imrie-Risley, which both cleaned the figure, but also was supposed to weaken the residual acid (?)
Priming the entire figure both gave a better surface to apply paint, but also sealed the figure so air could not react with the metal.
In that time, Imrie-Risley paints were the gold standard among miniature painters.  Unfortunatley, they were oil paint with lead stabilisers.  When it was mandated that the lead had to be removed, their paint became bad within weeks of opening the jars.
Very sad, as they had been a great line of paint.
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